[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Sea Shepherds chase, chased by, whalers


(Sydney Morning Herald)

Sea Shepherd ship seeks sanctuary from whalers

Andrew Darby, Hobart
January 25, 2012 - 3:00AM

A NEW test for the federal government is looming in the Australian sub-Antarctic, where a Sea Shepherd ship is set to seek sanctuary from pursuit by Japanese whalers.

The anti-whaling group's long-range vessel Bob Barker is again headed for the territorial waters of Tasmania's Macquarie Island, tailed by the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No. 3.

The two vessels circled the island inside the 12-nautical-mile limit of Macquarie's territorial waters earlier this month, continuing a chase that enables the whalers to warn the key factory ship, Nisshin Maru, of Sea Shepherd's location.

After repeated high-level Australian complaints to Tokyo about the incursion, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she had been advised that the Japanese ship moved outside the 12-mile limit.

The Bob Barker was able to slip away and hunt for the Nisshin Maru further south, until a few days ago when the Yushin Maru No. 3 chased it down once more.

Sea Shepherd's leader, Paul Watson, said yesterday the Bob Barker should reach Macquarie Island some time tomorrow, and it was hoping to lose Yushin Maru No. 3 there.

Meanwhile south-east of Macquarie in the Ross Sea, the Steve Irwin's captain turned to Cold War tactics in an attempt to throw off its pursuer.

Among pack ice, Mr Watson ordered a ''Crazy Ivan'', a manoeuvre borrowed from Soviet-era submarine warfare, in which a tailed vessel turns 180 degrees on its pursuer.

''They turned and ran like spooked rabbits,'' Mr Watson said.

''It was hilarious.''

He also released more details gained by the three Western Australian men who boarded the Shonan Maru No. 2 recently, who said the armoury on the Japanese ship included semi-automatic weapons, sidearms and rifles.

The Institute of Cetacean Research does not comment on the movements of its ships, but has repeatedly condemned Sea Shepherd tactics.

''Such dangerous actions by these groups are not peaceful protest but unforgivable acts akin to terrorism that threaten human life at sea,'' according to the ICR.

Mr Watson said that despite being unable to reach the Nisshin Maru he believed that Sea Shepherd was affecting the whale hunt.

''With two harpoon ships down, and the Nisshin Maru and Yushin Maru on the constant run, combined with the weather and ice conditions, I can certainly see that their kill quotas have been severely reduced,'' he said.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/whale-watch/sea-shepherd-ship-seeks-sanctuary-from-whalers-20120124-1qfmz.html

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